On Pins and Needles: Acupuncture and Fertility

 Standard Western fertility treatment is generally a combination of prescription medications, insemination procedures, and crossed fingers combined with perfect timing. Not every couple is comfortable starting a pregnancy through traditional fertility treatments, and that’s okay. A more natural approach, particularly if it makes you more comfortable, has the potential to work for some families. 

Acupuncture can be used in certain circumstances to help improve fertility. When used in tandem with other, nontraditional types of medicine — particularly those focused on a holistic  approach — it is possible acupuncture may be helpful. However, most experts report that these types of treatments have very little evidence based proof, and any evidence available tends to come from small, unsubstantiated studies. 

Acupuncture Isn’t Magic

Acupuncture is an ancient practice based on a complex science of meridians. While the western world has yet to fully embrace the efficacy of acupuncture, over the last few decades, a number of different clinical studies and trials are proving there just might be something to this ancient art form. Acupuncture is not magic, and it isn’t a cure all.

Just like many other infertility treatment methods, acupuncture cannot solve every problem. For example, if you suffer from tubal adhesions, acupuncture is not your best option. However, even in this scenario, acupuncture, when combined with other holistic treatments like herbal remedies or aromatherapy treatments, may still help promote greater ovarian function.

On the other hand, issues relating to the uterine lining, or endometrium, may benefit more obviously from acupuncture. Some studies suggest acupuncture can help increase the body’s natural blood flow to the endometrium. This translates into a thicker, richer and healthier uterine lining, an important aspect of improved fertility and an eventual healthy pregnancy. Again, this doesn’t mean it will cure endometriosis-related infertility, but it could have some beneficial results.

Acupunctural Timeline

Before deciding to invest in more traditional versions of infertility treatments, it may be worthwhile to begin with a few month of acupuncture treatments, a regiment that generally spans about three or four months.

Even if you know you will be relying on IVF or another form of western infertility treatment, preparing your body through acupuncture could potentially make it easier for those traditional treatments to be effective. If you have faced severe difficulty conceiving, you might use acupuncture in conjunction with traditional treatments for an amplified effect.

Post-Conception Acupuncture

Before deciding to invest in more traditional versions of infertility treatments, it may be worthwhile to first begin with a few month regiments of acupuncture treatments, usually spanning three or four months. This is still the case even if you know you will be relying on IVF or another form of western infertility treatments. For those who have had severe difficulty conceiving, it’s ideal to use acupuncture in conjunction with traditional treatments for an amplified effect.

Post-Conception Acupuncture

Acupuncture is safe before, during, and after conception, offering few risks or side effects to women who use the therapy. There will be some changes in the acupuncture points that are chosen before and after conception, but many acupuncture experts will recommend continuing treatment throughout the first trimester. After the first 12 weeks, the probability of a potential miscarriage drops dramatically.

If you have experienced miscarriage in the past, this might help you feel more secure about fetal development, and stress can negatively impact pregnancy (and conception, for that matter). Essentially, this keeps the body on track for a healthy pregnancy. 

Licensed Professionals

As with any medical professional, it’s critical to do your homework to ensure your acupuncture professional is more than just a self-proclaimed expert, but a state-licensed professional. This stems from the fact that improperly performed acupuncture can result in miscarriages, which is probably the greatest risk patients could face. With a little due diligence, you can alleviate some of those risks and focus on other simple tricks for increasing fertility. 

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